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Communications, Drama and Film

Photo of Professor Sinéad Moynihan

Professor Sinéad Moynihan



01392 724330


I am an American Studies specialist with satellite interests in Transatlantic Literary Studies and, particularly, the Irish Atlantic. My third monograph, Ireland, Migration and Return Migration: The "Returned Yank" in the Cultural Imagination, 1952 to present was published by Liverpool UP in March 2019 and was awarded the Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture by the American Conference for Irish Studies. My second book, the outcome of a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, is "Other People's Diasporas": Negotiating Race in Contemporary Irish and Irish-American Culture (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 2013). My first book, Passing into the Present: Contemporary American Fiction of Racial and Gender Passing, appeared wtih Manchester UP in 2010. 

My current research project is titled For Export Only: Irish Writers and U.S. Magazines. Comprising case studies of individual magazines, the project aims to 1) dislodge “exile” and “emigration” as the dominant modes of framing Irish literary culture that is produced and/or circulated beyond the borders of the nation-state 2) significantly expand scholarship that challenges claims that mid-twentieth-century Irish literary culture was a cultural wasteland stymied by the Catholic church, censorship and a dearth of homegrown, sustainable publishing outlets.

From January 2019 to December 2022, I was co-editor-in-chief, with Nick Witham, of the Journal of American Studies (Cambridge UP). 

My office is Queen's 314.

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My research interests cluster around American, Irish and Transatlantic Literature and Culture, particularly in relation to questions of migration, diaspora and race.  My Ph.D., on narratives of racial and gender passing, was grounded in critical race theory and was committed to elucidating the ongoing importance of questioning whiteness as an identity category that passes as invisible and non-raced.  A monograph based on my Ph.D., Passing into the Present: Contemporary American Fiction of Racial and Gender Passing, was published in 2010. 

Although I was concerned with race in an American, particularly African American, context at that point in my early career (2003-2006), I could not ignore contemporaneous developments in my home country, Ireland, in which the attractions of the Celtic Tiger economy meant that demographics were rapidly changing and the country was incorporating relatively large numbers of non-white immigrants. Suddenly, certain tenacious historical myths regarding Irish solidarity with other oppressed groups (Irish Americans siding with Mexicans in the Mexican American War of 1848; the Irish welcome received by Frederick Douglass on his visit to Ireland in the 1840s; the disproportionate Irish donations to Ethiopian Famine Relief in the 1980s) would be tested to their limit. In my second book, therefore, I was interested in the relationship between Irishness and whiteness in a historical and contemporary context and, particularly, in how questions of whiteness were being negotiated in a suddenly multicultural Ireland.

In 2007, I was awarded an Early Career Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust which enabled me to research and write this project: “Other People’s Diasporas”: Negotiating Race in Contemporary Irish and Irish-American Culture, which was published by Syracuse University Press in 2013.  Using and extending my expertise in critical race studies, the premise of the book is that (re)imagining Irish diasporic experience in the United States in various ways – particularly as this relates to Irish interactions with African Americans – has, in the last decade, become absolutely central to representations of contemporary multicultural Ireland. 

My most recently completed book project is a cultural history of the figure of the "Returned Yank" in the cultural imagination, 1952 to present. It was published in March 2019 by Liverpool UP and was awarded the Michael J. Durkan prize for Books on Language and Culture by the American Conference for Irish Studies. 

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I would be happy to supervise Ph.D. dissertations in any of the following areas:

  • Twentieth-and twenty-first century American literature
  • African American and Ethnic American literature
  • Contemporary American fiction, 1990s to present
  • Contemporary Irish fiction, 1990s to present
  • Race, Racial Passing, Whiteness Studies and the Black Atlantic
  • Transnationalism and Diaspora
  • Irish / American Transatlantic Culture

Research students

With Florian Stadtler, I jointly supervise:  

  • Hasnul Djohar, undertaking a Ph.D. on contemporary British and American Muslim Women's Writing 

I act as second supervisor to:

  • Candice Allmark-Kent, undertaking a Ph.D. on the representation of animals in twentieth-century Canadian Literature
  • Ruth Gilligan, undertaking a Creative Writing Ph.D.  I supervise the critical element, entitled: “Towards a Narratology of Otherness”

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

| 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 |








  • MOYNIHAN S, WITHAM N. (2017) The “Second Project”, Journal of American Studies, volume 51, no. 2, article no. E17, DOI:10.1017/s0021875817000020. [PDF]


  • Moynihan SB. (2016) "'We are where we are': Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn, Mythologies of Return and the Post-Celtic Tiger Moment", The Edinburgh Companion to Atlantic Literary Studies, Edinburgh UP, 88-102.






  • Moynihan SB. (2011) "The Ghost of the Real Leg": Maurice Walsh, John Ford, and Adaptation in Roddy Doyle's The Dead Republic", New Hibernia Review, volume 15, no. 1, pages 49-63.



  • Moynihan S. (2009) “Transnational ‘Tragic Mulatto’: Phil Lynott, The Nephew and Mixed Race Irishness”, Internationalist Review of Irish Culture, volume 1, pages 60-77.
  • Moynihan S. (2009) “History Repeating Itself: Passing, Pudd’nhead Wilson and The President’s Daughter”, Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, volume 32, no. 3, pages 809-821, DOI:10.1353/cal.0.0475. [PDF]
  • Moynihan S. (2009) “Native Christian Syncretism in Two Louise Erdrich Novels", Mother Tongue Theologies: Poets, Novelists, Non-Western Christianity, Wipf and Stock, 211-233.



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External impact and engagement

During 2021, and with Dr. Alison Garden of Queen's University Belfast, I ran a series of academic and public-facing events to mark the centenary of the birth of the Belfast-born writer, Brian Moore (1921-1999). For more information, please see our website. This project was supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, 

Contributor to:

Contribution to discipline

From January 2015 to December 2022, I held editorial roles at the Journal of American Studies (Cambridge University Press), first as co-Associate Editor (to December 2019) and then as co-Editor-in-Chief (to December 2022). 

In 2013, along with Jo Gill and Paul Williams, I co-organised the 58th BAAS Annual Conference at the University of Exeter. 

I have peer-reviewed articles and full book manuscripts for the Journal of American Studies, New Hibernia Review, Irish Studies ReviewComparative American Studies, African American Review, MELUS: Multiethnic Literatures of the United States, Cork University Press, Manchester University Press, Routledge and Syracuse University Press.


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I teach across the whole curriculum, from first year right through to M.A. My research interests in American literature are reflected in my contributions to Empire of Liberty: American Literature, 1776 to present (level 2), Harlem and After: African American Literature, 1925-present (level 3) and The Literature of Cold War America (M.A.).  Meanwhile, my contribution to Crossing the Water: Transatlantic Literary Relations (level 2) is greatly informed by my interests in American, Transatlantic and Irish Literatures. 

I have also supervised undergraduate and M.A. dissertations on a wide range of topics. 

Modules taught

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I have completed a B.A. in English and French (N.U.I., Galway, 2000), an English (University College Cork, 2002) and a Ph.D. in American Studies (University of Nottingham, 2007).  In 2007, I was awarded an Early Career Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust, which I undertook at the University of Nottingham. I was appointed to the University of Exeter as a Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Literature in 2010 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019. 

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